Undercut-and-Fill Mining at Falconbridge Mine of Falconbridge Nickel Mines Md.

Tims, S. A.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION The Falconbridge mine ore body extends about 1.6 km (1 mile) in length and the deepest developed ore is on the 6050 level below surface. The ore zone varies in width from a few inches to over 30 m (100 ft) and the average width is 4.9 m (16 ft). Access levels are driven in the ore at 53.3-m (175-ft) intervals. The principal method of mining is overhand longitudinal cut-¬and-fill. Prior to 1962 timber square-set stoping as a secondary extraction method was used for about 15% of the total production. Undercut-and-fill was intro¬duced at Falconbridge in 1962 as a potential replace¬ment for the square-set method in heavy ground. The undercut-and-fill method was developed by Inco in the 1950s, its principal application being to transverse pillar mining. Falconbridge made modifications to this method. A feature of the mine is the No. 1 flat fault which dips 0.79 rad (45°) towards the northeast. The main characteristic of the fault is the presence of large swells of ore directly under the plane of the fault. The ground under the fault area is highly fractured and associated with massive sulfides. In the past, the ore under the fault was recovered, with difficulty, by either tight cut¬and-fill or square-set stoping. In the 1970s these meth¬ods were supplanted to a large degree by the under-cut-¬and-fill method. An advantage of the current undercut-and-fill method which uses cemented fill compared to the cut-and-fill and square-set methods is the reduction of dilution due to better control of the walls. At Falconbridge mine, it is estimated that the grade of ore produced by undercut¬and-fill is improved by approximately 10% over other methods. Where undercut-and-fill is used in very weak ground, a much greater improvement in grade can be expected. Table I shows mining production for 1974. The undercut-and-fill method was first used at Falconbridge during 1962. The first longitudinal stope was prepared for undercutting by laying down laminated beams the length of the stope and installing a lagging mat floor on top of the beams. Unconsolidated tailings fill was poured on top of the mat floor. As the cut ad¬vanced under the floor, heavy posts were placed under the laminated beams at 1.8-m (6-ft) intervals. During 1966, a radical change was made to the method when tailings fill, consolidated with portland cement, replaced the unconsolidated fill. This development eliminated the laminated beams and heavy mat floor and greatly im¬proved the stability of the stope. This system, with minor variations, is currently used at Falconbridge mine. APPLICATION The undercut-and-fill method is used to mine in¬competent ground, sills or floor pillars under mined-out levels, or a block of ore isolated between levels. It is occasionally used to advantage in sequencing produc¬tion from various mining blocks. This is done by mining a block of ore cut-and-fill method and at the same time mining the ore block directly underneath by the under¬cut-and-fill method. The undercut-and-fill mill holes at Falconbridge are either boreholes, stripped timbered raises, or steel mill holes. Boreholes and rock raises tend to slough in heavy and broken ground which increases dilution when sloughing exceeds the ore width outline and also in¬creases the difficulty of moving down to start the new cut. For example, in one installation, a 1.2-m (4-ft) diam borehole sloughed to a size of 3.7 x 5.5 m (12 x 18 ft). The undercut-and-fill method usually requires a mill hole extending from the level below the ore to the top horizon of the ore block. The customary methods of providing a mill hole are: 1) A borehole is driven from level to level through the ore block and a chute installed on the bottom level (Fig. 1). 2) An existing raise is used as a mill hole. If the raise is timbered, a steel mill hole is installed inside the timber and tailings fill poured around the steel mill hole (Fig. 1). 3) An existing steel mill hole, situated at one end of a mined-out stope, is used as the mill hole for an ad¬jacent undercut-and-fill ore block. The mill hole posi¬tion is determined when planning the mining sequence of the first stope (Fig. 2).
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